How to Pick a Paralegal Degree Program near Aiea Hawaii
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Aiea HI and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic choices are being offered, both at school and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students start by looking for paralegal schools within traveling range of their Aiea homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program ought to be considered as well. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you need to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both fill comparable job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Aiea HI with a wide range of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could help with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their daily activities might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Aiea HI paralegal can be complicated and very challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career in Aiea HI as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can take just 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. After you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might choose to proceed and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Hawaii to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected certifying organizations in the profession are:
- National Federation of Paralegal Associations
- American Alliance of Paralegals
- National Association of Legal Assistants
- National Association for Legal Professionals
By graduating with a degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Aiea HI.
Online Paralegal Schools
Online paralegal schools have become more prevalent and can be an excellent alternative for individuals in Aiea HI looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to those who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can start the process of evaluating Aiea HI area schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial issues to research also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Aiea HI law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the Aiea HI paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while still in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start establishing contacts within the Aiea HI legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Hawaii legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws vary from state to state, it might be advantageous to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to practice after graduation. Also, it will be important to create relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially look at those schools that are within your Aiea HI local region.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential received and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be available to help offset some of the cost, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Aiea HI. Naturally if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these additional costs, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Aiea HI, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you enroll in offers that option. Last, find out what the process is for making up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Aiea HI?
Aiea is located at 21°23′9″N 157°55′51″W / 21.38583°N 157.93083°W / 21.38583; -157.93083 (21.385900, −157.930927). According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 1.8 square miles (4.7 km2), of which, 1.6 square miles (4.1 km2) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) of it (5.71%) is water.
Kamehameha Highway (Hawaii Route 99) divides most of Aiea from the shore of Pearl Harbor (mostly US government property), and the parallel major thoroughfare, Interstate H-1, further cuts the town's commercial district into two distinct areas. These east-west routes (and other streets, such as Moanalua Road) connect Aiea to Pearl City, immediately adjacent on the west, and Halawa, adjacent on the east. The residential area known as Aiea Heights extends up the ridgeline above the town. The communities of Newtown Estates and Royal Summit are located at the western edge of Aiea near its border with Pearl City at Kaahumanu Street. Residents of the census-designated places (CDP) of Waimalu and Hālawa use Aiea in their postal address.
"ʻAiea" was originally the name of an ahupuaʻa, or Hawaiian land division. The name was derived from a species of plant in the nightshade family, Nothocestrum latifolium. It stretched from ʻAiea Bay (part of Pearl Harbor) into the mountains to the north. At the end of the 19th century, a sugarcane plantation was opened in the district by the Honolulu Plantation Company.
In July 1941, five months before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Commander Thomas C Latimore from the USS Dobbin, vanished while walking in the hills above Aiea. Despite several major searches and a naval investigation, his disappearance has never been explained. Within the U.S. Navy, many believed he might have been abducted and killed by a local Hawaiian Japanese spy ring because he had either stumbled upon their activities in the hills or had been specifically targeted because of his background in Naval Intelligence.
Find the Ideal Paralegal Program near Aiea HI
Enrolling in the right paralegal educational program is an important first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Aiea home. Paralegal education programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Different types of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you choose to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to evaluate each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the right training you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Aiea HI.
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